Firms employing migrant workers from the European Union are more likely to have enjoyed business growth in the past two years, according to a new report.
A study of 1,000 employers suggested that many were relying more on migrants to fill vacancies, saying they offered experience and commitment.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said its findings showed that many of the negative assumptions about immigrants were untrue.
The research found little evidence that employers were hiring migrants because they were cheaper than UK born workers, or because they needed less training.
Migration was also only one factor affecting the high number of young people out of work, because there had been an increase in older employees, former benefit claimants and parents looking for jobs, said the report.
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, said: “Employers have been turning to EU migrants to fill vacancies, particularly for lower skilled jobs, often because they are a bit older and have more work experience than young people in the UK, emphasising the competitive nature of the market for entry level jobs.
“This is a highly charged political issue, but our research shows that many of the negative assumptions about immigration are untrue. Employers are making rational decisions to employ more experienced and qualified workers from overseas over less experienced UK workers, or are hiring migrants because there are simply not enough applicants in the local labour market. What the vast majority of employers are not doing is hiring migrants to lower the wage bill or offset the need to train the workforce.
“The question therefore is not whether ambitious employers who are recruiting migrant workers should be restricted in their efforts to grow their businesses and contribute to the UK economy. It is a broader issue about how do we increase the number of firms looking to grow the capabilities of their workforces and provide more opportunities for job progression. We need to rebalance our jobs economy, to reduce the large proportion of low-skilled jobs, and to invest in a broader skilled more competitive workforce.”
The CIPD said the gap between education and work should be closed, to give better support to young people to help them find work.